Flights Of Fantasy
[ M Panging Pao ]
The Covid-19 pandemic caused by the coronavirus is rapidly spreading across the world. A few cities and countries are under total shutdown, entire families are living in isolation, and many deaths have been caused by the virus.
With Covid-19 affecting India also, a few, very pertinent handling models emerge. Due to their proximity and trade/cultural links, countries like South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore were affected early. Till date, South Korea has had 8799 Covid-19 cases and 102 deaths, Japan 1007 positive cases and 35 deaths, Hong Kong 273 positive cases and four deaths, Singapore 385 positive cases and two deaths, and Taiwan 153 cases and two 2 deaths.
Comparatively, the figures for European and other countries are much higher. Italy has 47021 positive cases and 4032 deaths, Spain 24926 positive cases and 1326 deaths, France 12612 positive cases and 450 deaths, and Iran 20610 positive cases and 1556 deaths.
Research reveals a few stark differences in the handling of the Covid-19 outbreak. Countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore learned from the SARS epidemic of 2003 and initiated preventive steps. Singapore recalled reservists and increased production of N-95 masks and gloves well before the spread of the epidemic. Almost all these less affected countries tracked each potential patient with a history of travel to affected regions and carried out extensive tests. If they were found positive, the histories and contacts of these persons were meticulously tracked and followed up, and the persons were placed in isolation or quarantined. Heavy penalties/fines were imposed on defaulters.
These meticulous tracking and testing of suspected persons were followed up by social distancing, and personal health and hygiene. Schools were closed and mass gatherings were banned. Each country set up centralized command and control centres to deal with the pandemic at a very early stage. Traditionally, citizens of these countries are disciplined and groomed for obeying rules, regulations and government guidelines. Every citizen did their part, including wearing masks and washing their hands and taking necessary precautions such as avoiding crowded places and gatherings.
Presently China, where the disease originated, has reported nil domestic cases in the last few days. With no known vaccines and cures, Covid-19 is spreading exponentially in countries of Europe and the Americas. Many countries are reporting lack of trained medical practitioners, ventilators, protection kits, masks, sanitizers, etc. It is now documented that most of the fatalities are occurring among aged persons with preexisting diseases.
With India approaching the critical phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, the onus lies on the citizens of the nation to act responsibly and follow the laid down precautions. We must stop shaking hands, maintain social distance of 1 metre, follow sneezing/cough etiquette, and avoid mass gatherings for the next few weeks. Other precautions include washing hands with soap and water frequently and avoid touching mouth/nose/eyes. The final one is that in case of contact with suspected Covid-19 positive person or someone with travel history to the affected countries or regions, we must report to the authorities and self-quarantine, avoiding contact with others, for at least 14 days.
The coronavirus does not recognize caste, religion, tribe, rich/poor. All persons who do not follow precautions are likely to be infected. The precautions are for us. For humans’ sake, let’s follow the laid down precautions for the next few weeks, starting with the ‘janta curfew’ today. (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)